Video: 5G QuickStart

The best way to cut through the 5G hype is to understand the technology itself. This video explains the acronyms, frequency use, OpenRAN sites, multipath reception, software-defined radio.

Joe Hess starts this talk at NANOG 75 by telling us what 5G isn’t before covering the basics. He talks about NFV, Network Function Virtualisation, which is the ability to move any network function such as firewalls any load balancers into software running on a virtual environment. The flexibility that this provides is significant. Not only does NFV reduce the cost of launching new services and allowing that to happen quicker, all because no new hardware appliances need to be purchased and installed, it is also key to enabling ‘Network slicing’ which is a critical element to making 5G work for the broadcast industry. When you have virtualised the network functions, provisioning a totally new, separate, network can be done via API allowing a broadcaster to have their own cut of the network bandwidth but also have the security of total segregation.

Joe also highlights some other important technologies such as CUPS, which no longer stands for the Common UNIX Printing System, but rather Control and User Plane Separation. Part of CUPS is the ability to use polar codes to represent control data in the same datastream as general traffic. This creates a more robust control channel than the general data without having to create a separate channel. He also discusses the meaning of ‘NR’ or ‘New Radio’ which is a radio protocol replacing UMTS used in 3G and 4G’s LTE. It has the ability to be used on frequencies up to 6GHz and also on 24GHz and above, includes improved OFDM performance, and also run on top of an LTE core.

Please note the audio glitches you hear are on the recording and not due to your system

Joe makes the point that the 5G can run on ‘any’ frequency from 700MHz up and takes a look at the details. He also points out that there’s a lot of information in the press about 5G rollouts including by Telegeography

We next look at cRAN, vRAN and oRAN. cRAN (Cloud Radio Access Network) involves centralising control typically in the cloud. vRAN, Virtual RAN, allows you to choose who receives service from each tower allowing you to share a stadium’s-worth of subscribers or, say the people in a traffic jam, amongst a number of cell towers, not just the one which is closest to them or gives them the best reception. OpenRAN, such as the one just launched in Reading, UK which allows interoperability with open source software and the use of software defined radio.

MIMO is the next topic covered. Joe explains this isn’t new, but it is an important part of 5G. MIMO stands for Mulitple In, Multiple Out which is the ability to use multiple antennae at both ends to deal with the multi-path reflections on the received signal. In the last part of the talk, Joe speaks about mapping 5G deployments, tools you can use to analyse 5G.

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Joe Hess Joe Hess
Hess Communications

Video: 5G Technology

5G seems to offer so much, but there is a lot of nuance under the headlines. Which of the features will telcos actually provide? When will the spectrum become available? How will we cope with the new levels of complexity? Whilst for many 5G will simply ‘work’, when broadcasters look to use it for delivering programming, they need to look a few levels deeper.

In this wide-ranging video from the SMPTE Toronto Section, four speakers take us through the technologies at play and they ways they can be implemented to cut through the hype and help us understand what could actually be achieved, in time, using 5G technology.

Michael J Martin is first up who covers topics such as spectrum use, modulation, types of cells, beam forming and security. Regarding spectrum, Michael explains that 5G uses three frequency bands, the sub 1GHz spectrum that’s been in use for many years, a 3Ghz range and a millimetre range at 26Ghz.

“It’s going to be at least a decade until we get 5G as wonderful as 4G is today.”

Michael J Martin
Note that some countries already use other frequencies such as 1.8GHz which will also be available.The important issue is that the 26Ghz spectrum will typically not be available for over a year, so 5G roll-out starts in some of the existing bands or in the 3.4Ghz spectrum. A recurring theme in digital RF is the use of OFDM which has long been used by DVB and has been adopted by ATSC 3.0 as their modulation, too. OFDM allows different levels of robustness so you can optimise reach and bandwidth.

Michael highlights a problem faced in upgrading infrastructure to 5G, the amount of towers/sites and engineer availability. It’s simply going to take a long time to upgrade them all even in a small, dense environment. This will deal with the upgrade of existing large sites, but 5G provides also for smaller cells, (micro, pico and femto cells). These small cells are very important in delivering the millimetre wavelength part of the spectrum.

Network Slicing
Source: Michael J. Martin, MICAN Communications

We look at MIMO and beam forming next. MIMO is an important technology as it, effectively, collects reflected versions of the transmitted signals and processes them to create stronger reception. 5G uses MIMO in combination with beam forming where the transmitter itself electronically manipulates the transmitter array to focus the transmission and localise it to a specific receiver/number of receivers.

Lastly, Michael talks about Network Slicing which is possibly one of the most anticipated features of 5G by the broadcast community. The idea being that the broadcaster can reserve its own slice of spectrum so when sharing an environment with 30,000 other receivers, they will still have the bandwidth they need.

Our next speaker is Craig Snow from Huawei outlines how secondary networks can be created for companies for private use which, interestingly, partly uses separate frequencies from public network. Network slicing can be used to separate your enterprise 5G network into separate networks fro production, IT support etc. Craig then looks at the whole broadcast chain and shows where 5G can be used and we quickly see that there are many uses in live production as well as in distribution. This can also mean that remote production becomes more practical for some use cases.

Craig moves on to look at physical transmitter options showing a range of sub 1Kg transmitters, many of which have in-built Wi-Fi, and then shows how external microwave backhaul might look for a number of your buildings in a local area connecting back to a central tower.

Next is Sayan Sivanathan who works for Bell Mobility and goes in to more detail regarding the wider range of use cases for 5G. Starting by comparing it to 4G, highlighting the increased data rates, improved spectrum efficiency and connection density of devices, he paints a rosy picture of the future. All of these factors support use cases such as remote control and telemetry from automated vehicles (whether in industrial or public settings.)  Sayan then looks at the deployment status in the US, Europe and Korea. He shows the timeline for spectrum auction in Canada, talks through photos of  5G transmitters in the real world.

Global Mobile Data Traffic (Exabytes per month)
Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, Nov 2019

Finishing off today’s session is Tony Jones from MediaKind who focuses in on which 5G features are going to be useful for Media and Entertainment. One is ‘better video on mobile’. Tony picks up on a topic mentioned by Michael at the beginning of the video: processing at the edge. Edge processing, meaning having compute power at the closest point of the network to your end user allows you to deliver customised manifest and deal with rights management with minimal latency.

Tony explains how MediaKind worked with Intel and Ericsson to deliver 5G remote production for the 2018 US Open. 5G is often seen as a great way to make covering golf cheaper, more aesthetically pleasing and also quicker to rig.

The session ends with a Q&A

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Michael J Martin Michael J Martin
MICAN Communications
Tony Jones Tony Jones
Principal Technologist
MediaKind Global
Craig Snow Craig Snow
Enterprise Accounts Director,
Sayan Sivanathan Sayan Sivanathan
Senior Manager – IoT, Smart Cities & 5G Business Development
Bell Mobility